December 20, 1870


I found no comfort.

My father and Obadiah agreed that the best place to do so would be at the bakery on the other end of town. I went with no more intent than to listen and get some warm bread.

I confess my mouth watered at the idea of it.

When I entered the bakery, I was assailed by the sights and scents, and for a moment, I stood in the doorway, enjoying the sensations.

Only for a moment.

A soft bell had chimed when I opened the door, and it chimed again as the door closed behind me.

At the sound of the second chime, several of the staff nodded to me, and a customer turned away from the register to glance at me. She wore a black dress, a large hat, and when she saw me, her eyes widened.

I didn’t know who she was, but it appeared she knew me.

Her gasp drowned out all other noise in the place and brought the bakery to a standstill.

Before the shop assistant behind the counter could respond, the customer whispered, “Duncan Blood.”

Apparently, the townsfolk here take one another at their word.

Every eye focused on me, and an older baker at the far back of the shop on a raised platform locked eyes with me.

“By the devil,” the man hissed, “he is!”

Not a damned one picked up a weapon to come at me.

Not a damned one of them charged me.

They scattered and ran.

Some for the back of the building, others towards the door behind me.

I couldn’t let them out. None of them.

The Colts cleared leather before the old baker leapt down from his platform, and he was dead before he took a single step. The .44 caliber slug smashed into his back and blew a hole on its way out of his chest.

In my hands, the Colts roared. A thunderous, barbarous noise that froze the staff and the customers for a split second, and that was all I needed.

I’d shot all save one, a baker cowering by his patisserie stand. He kept his face hidden as I reloaded the Colts and then shot him dead. In silence, I walked among the dead and the dying and gave them all the coup de grace.

I could hear the townsfolk yelling out in the street, so I slipped out the back, stepping over the elder baker as I did so.

Behind me, the warm bread cooled amongst the dead.

#paranormal #christmas

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Nicholas Efstathiou

Husband, father, and writer.

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